Oli Farago, Co-Founder and CEO of Coyote Software.
This past year of Covid-19-induced shelter-in-place lockdowns, social distancing and work-from-home mandates have devastated commercial real estate businesses across the globe and disrupted the lives of working individuals in unprecedented ways. While the negative impacts of the pandemic are vast, from mental and emotional fatigue to business disruptions and financial loss, the real estate community has a few reasons to look at the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.
Real estate firms across the globe have made a number of corporate and cultural changes to their businesses this past year to accommodate new work regimes amid the pandemic. Many of these internal changes — such as onboarding new technologies to streamline team collaboration, offering tools to improve employee wellness and establishing virtual processes to boost productivity and morale — should remain part of companies’ internal structure post-pandemic.
At Coyote Software, we’ve been able to change for the better in a number of ways and to learn new, creative ways to check in with our teams and make sure everyone feels in the loop and supported. This is especially important since we have officially adopted a fully flexible, hybrid work policy — which allows team members to work both remotely and from the office at their convenience — that will remain even after the global health crisis has passed.
The commercial real estate industry is the foundation of the built world, and as such, it can be assumed that this group will be among the first to return to the office in great numbers — many of us already have in some capacity. Whether your team is fully in-person, fully remote or hybrid, companies should continue taking extra steps to boost employee morale, engagement and team collaboration.
In such an uncharted global climate, it is very important to emphasize employee wellness and mental health. We all have dark days, and I am certainly no exception. When push comes to shove, it is our job as executives and senior leaders to normalize the discussion around mental health, letting our teams know that we are just as concerned about their mental health as we are about their physical health, and that it is OK to not be OK.
Investing in employee wellness can help those struggling with issues related to isolation, loneliness or a lack of motivation. In order to make mental health-related services available on-demand to employees, you might consider partnering with a service provider to give team members direct and immediate access to therapists and other certified practitioners. For example, we offer Spill, a service that integrates with Slack allowing our team members to schedule therapy sessions, ask questions to therapists and refer to books, videos and other resources designed to help improve their mental well-being. The response to these services has been overwhelmingly positive and so profound that we made it a permanent addition to our company’s HR initiatives.
Another lockdown-inspired internal change to consider keeping post-pandemic is hosting regular companywide check-ins — whether they be virtual and/or in-person — to see how everyone on the team is faring. These do not have to be monotonous conference calls that employees dread and seldom engage with; they can take many forms, such as trivia sessions or game nights, fitness and step challenges, scavenger hunts, bingo games and even virtual escape rooms. The purpose of these regularly scheduled meetings should be to provide a collaborative, fun environment where everyone can unwind that doubles as an opportunity to check in and connect with all team members virtually.
With ongoing flexible work-from-home policies, it’s important to continue prioritizing unique ways to connect with team members in different locations. Fun, engaging check-ins can go a long way for both remote and in-office workers, helping to keep everyone motivated, productive and mentally well.
It is our hope that as more of the population becomes vaccinated and Covid-19 fears subside, returning to the office will cease to fill team members with angst and will instead bring about a sense of excitement. Speaking from personal experience, you don’t realize how much you miss being in the office with your colleagues until you go back for the first time after a year-long hiatus.